Polish president attempts ban of communist symbols

Anticommunist hysteria in Poland crossed the boundaries of common sense long, long ago. Recently it has crossed the boundaries of absurdity.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the former prime minister and leader of the previously ruling political party, stated publicly that communism was responsible for dozens of billions of victims. If a lie serves anticommunism, the sky’s the limit. Anything goes that stirs up public hatred. Statements like this can be published without any consequences. Nobody even asks him the obvious question, i.e. if he knows what the world’s population actually is. [6.5 billion, Eds.]

Society is treated like a bunch of idiots who don’t know, don’t want to know and who can’t count.

At the same time, President Lech Kaczynski, his twin brother, signed a law that is equally absurd. In its new form, Article 256 of the Criminal Code states:

Art. 256 §1. Any person who publicly propagandizes for fascism or any other state totalitarian regime, or calls down hatred against national, ethnic, racial, religious or non-religious [groups], shall be subjected to the penalty of a fine, restriction of liberty, or deprivation of liberty for a term of up to two years.

§2. The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone who, in order to propagandize, produces, records, imports, purchases, stores, presents, transports or sends any other item containing matter described in §1, or which carries communist symbolism.

§3. A perpetrator of the banned act does not commit a crime if the act was [part of] an artistic, educational or scientific activity.

§4. In the case of a conviction for an offense defined in §2, the court will declare the forfeiture of the items mentioned in §2, even if they were not the property of the perpetrator.

The amendment to the existing act, which adds clauses 1 through 4, comes into force half a year after being published in the [statute book]. It has not been published yet. It is worth mentioning that the ban on communist symbols comes together with other amendments. One of them increases the punishment for pedophilia; the purpose being to create the impression that communism is one of the social diseases.

Both [Kaczynski] brothers are worshippers of anticommunism. This is a criminal ideology, worse than imaginary totalitarianisms. It [anticommunism] is an ideology that produced a huge number of victims. It was responsible for Hitler’s plunging Europe into the inferno of war. It was responsible for the organized and deliberate genocide. It was responsible for the Japanese occupation of China and other countries, for the barbaric war in Korea, and for the plan to use nuclear weapons on a massive scale. It was also responsible for the barbaric war in Vietnam and the use of chemical warfare and crimes against civilians.

Capitalism, as a social formation, has exploitation and repression of the human person inscribed on its banner. Under this banner, English, French and Belgian colonialists have plundered natural resources and committed genocide. They have forced the entire populations of other countries to work as slaves for their profits. They have done this both openly and secretly.

Has any political party that openly worships anticommunism and capitalism ever heard of accusations because of these things? The answer is no, as only capitalism can be openly promoted. Anyone who questions that can be charged with imaginary crimes or criminal intent, and now there are attempts being made to imprison those [who ask such questions]. And at the same time, they prattle about democracy.

The officials of the capitalist regime have become so arrogant and insolent that they have transformed the parliament into a court in which they can sit in judgment over their political opponents. Since it was impossible to prove that communists propagate totalitarianism or intend to commit any crimes, they found that, after 20 years of slanders and lies, they could attribute such intentions to communists by means of legislation.

The Communist Party of Poland is a political party registered in the court. [The government] failed to prove that its statutes and program contain anything illegal. The CP of Poland acts within the Polish Constitution and laws concerning political parties. State institutions are obliged to treat all political parties equally.

However, this requirement is not complied with. Practically only the parliamentary parties are allowed into the public debate. The CP of Poland is subjected to systematic and particular discrimination. Its ideology is the constant theme of debate. There have been words to stir up hatred. There are state institutions which appear to be public institutions, which are financed by public funds but whose openly declared purpose is to carry on political struggle by means of the revision and extreme politicization of history, equating of communism with fascism, myth-making and even making threats of repression. This revision of history is the result of the revengeful tendencies of social classes, the bourgeoisie and the landowners, which lost their privileges when the people’s forces gained power after World War II, as well as the growing fears of those classes which gained a privileged position after the systemic transformation of 1989.

Even before the act was passed, the Institute of National Remembrance tried to threaten local authorities with criminal responsibility for being slow to change place names in accordance with the imperatives of official ideology. State institutions were not only transformed into loudspeakers for proclaiming anticommunist hatred, they themselves also broke or bent the law in many ways.

The Parliament, however, carried out the violation of the basic principles of law and order in an open and flagrant manner. It passed an amendment to the criminal code that is aimed at one particular political party. The adjective describing the criminal action prohibited in the amendment is part of the proper name of the Communist Party of Poland.

Can anyone imagine what would happen if the Communist Party of Poland were to propose in its program similar measures to be taken against its opponents? Wouldn’t we be accused of a crime for merely announcing such an intention? Wouldn’t they use Article 13 of the Polish Constitution, which states that “Political parties and other organizations whose programs are based upon totalitarian methods and the modes of activity of Nazism, fascism and communism, as well as those whose programs or activities sanction racial or national hatred, the application of violence for the purpose of obtaining power or to influence the state, or provide for the secrecy of their own structure or membership, shall be prohibited”, against the CP of Poland in order to make it illegal for merely referring to such totalitarian practices?

This amendment is exceptionally totalitarian. It interferes with the realm thoughts and of means of expression. The possession of items that contain unspecified elements can be penalized by a simple declaration that it is the symbolic carrier of unpopular political ideas, since what a communist symbol is or is not, has not been defined.

The Amendment to Article 256 of the Criminal Code contradicts the Political Parties Act (dating from June 26, 1997) which mandates equal treatment and protection for party graphic symbols; and the Polish Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and of conscience, and the right to propagate information (Article 53 p.1 and Article 54 p.1). Parliament appears also to be flouting international agreements, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed on December 16, 1966, Articles 18 and 19) and the European Convention on Human Rights (Articles 9 and 10).

The Communist Party of Poland is strongly contesting these undemocratic practices by all possible means, and is preparing for a confrontation with the aim of exposing the absurdity, obscurantism, irresponsibility and malice of their perpetrators.

Photo:  “Working Class Hero http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurek_durczak/ / CC BY 2.0